Is boarding school worth the expense? TeenLife asked parents of boarding school students and the answer was a resounding “yes!”
It’s not easy for many parents to consider boarding school. Students may be nervous about living away from home. Parents may be concerned that they won’t see their child every day. And college costs loom on the horizon. We spoke to parents who sent their children to boarding school to find out if the investment was worthwhile. All felt that this decision contributed to their child’s success in college and beyond, not only through academics, but by fostering independence and personal responsibility.
Here are 10 reasons parents feel boarding school is worth the investment.
1. Boarding school means less helicopter parenting.
“I got rid of the ‘Did Ya's’: ‘Did ya do your homework? Did ya clean your room?’” one mom said. At boarding school, students learn to manage their time and goals based on the school’s rules and incentives. That allows parents to cut back on nagging. “For example my daughter couldn't study in the library (which had more social status) unless she had a 3.0 or above. She couldn’t leave for the weekend unless her room was clean.”
2. Boarding schools can be a better fit.
Even the best local public or private school may not be a good fit for your student. “The public school was too large and the (local) private schools had too entitled an atmosphere,” one parent said. And, when students start at a boarding school as freshman, they have a year to adjust before colleges really look at their high school resumes, another parent noted.
3. Boarding schools have resources and networks.
Some boarding schools, for example, offer subjects or sports that public schools can not afford. Coaches and admission staff may network with the best colleges. “The top-notch athletic program helped our son get recruited to play lacrosse at an Ivy League school,” one mom said.
4. Boarding schools foster independence.
“The kids were away from home and were independent so going to college was no big deal,” one parent wrote. Students who attended boarding school were much more emotionally prepared for college than their peers, parents said.
5. Boarding schools are proactive about the college application process.
“The college application process was more in student hands because they had strong advisors (plus bi-weekly meetings) who guided them (not the parents),” wrote one parent. “It made the process more about (the student) and not about the parents or the other students.”
6. Boarding schools foster face-to-face communication.
“Kids can hang out with friends on weekday evenings and have fun on weekends in a safe environment,” one parent said. Another noted the advantages of less screen time: “My daughter had more social face time with her peers instead of always being on the screen. … When she went to college she felt that kids really didn't know how to talk to each other.”
7. Boarding schools expand peer groups and trigger life-long friendships.
Socially, students learn to live within a group as a whole and are much more open to different friends, parents said. “International students helped to broaden the outlook of other students and made the community more diverse than local schools.” Boarding school nurtures life-long friends, one parent said. “My son has a tight circle of friends from his boarding school days [because] they lived, studied and played together.”
8. Boarding schools keep activities within reach.
“Boarding school enabled our daughter to remain engaged in the many extracurricular and enhancement activities she enjoyed without having to drive all over,” one parent wrote. “Having a centralized location for her various activities allows her time for her studies and a social life as well.” Or, as another put it, “there were no more wheels on the bus….All the activities and tutoring were on campus. [There was] less maintenance and stress and more self-reliance.”
9. Boarding schools don’t have to be far away.
Boarding school can be in the next state, or the next town. Parents still have the ability to keep in touch and visit on a regular basis. “It was only two hours away so it was easy to come and watch the game or attend the play.”
10. Boarding school educators are experts at navigating the teenage years.
Parents like that without the daily nag, they can spend more time with their children on fun things that “bonded us without conflict.” As one dad wrote, “No parent wants to admit that they can't do the parenting job perfectly all the time but having a backup team during those crazy teenage years can be a real help.”
Exploring Boarding Schools
TeenLife com lists more than 300 boarding schools in the US and abroad. You can refine your search by entering a state or country in the search bar and then using the filters to select “School”, “Residential” and “Private”. Drill down by looking at the listing of each school. To find out more about the process of applying to boarding school, go to The Association of Boarding Schools website.
It helps to request information and get on the mailing list of the schools you are interested in. Once you narrow down the options, visit the schools and ask to speak to current and past students (and parents)! Most boarding schools have an open house in the fall and require that all application materials, test scores, and recommendations are submitted by Feb. 1.
Good luck with your boarding school search!